How and Why We Laugh

Types of Comedy

Before reading the article about the various types of comedy, I hadn’t really considered how many forms there actually are. Most of the time when I hear or see something funny, I do not really take the time to consider its type or form. Most of us, however, probably favor some types over others. Personally, I really enjoy deadpan humor, which was mentioned in the article. Deadpan is characterized by a dull delivery – one in which offers little to no change in body language or facial expression. One of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, uses deadpan while performing his stand-up. Many of us are also familiar with other forms of comedy, including parody, slapstick, sarcasm, and anecdotal. The article mentioned that some forms of comedy fade over time. For example, slapstick comedy is not as popular today as it once was in the past. This leads to me to ask: What form(s) of comedy do you think are most popular today, and why do you think that is?

Contagious Laughter and the Brain

Many of us know by personal experience the times in which we start laughing just because someone else is laughing, and the hilarious spiral that this situation leads to. The article mentions that contagious laughter might be explained through our social nature. Specifically, laughing is an adaptive behavior because it is important for social animals to coordinate their behavior. I think this theory is interesting because it makes you think about the potential origins of laughter among humans. Did laughter develop as a way to communicate that something is not dangerous or harmful? Does laughter today function more for the benefit of social relationships than the joke itself?

Humor as a Social Protest

Another function of humor might be to help bring conflicting groups together. I found this to be interesting because I hadn’t thought of comedy before as a truly useful tool for situations of conflict. After reading this article though, I was surprised to learn that people in the past have, in fact, used comedy and humor as a way to create trust and reduce hostility. Orange Alternative members (who opposed the authoritarian regime in Poland) used humor tactics to reduce hostility. They dressed up in costumes and acted in absurd scenarios in public in order to dismantle aggression. In what ways do we see humor being used today to reduce conflict? Do you think we can use humor to bring people together?


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